Wednesday, April 25, 2007


To a 16 year old kid there is nothing more fantastic than his first car. Mine was a 1950 Ford that I bought in the summer of 1966 for $50.

It started out as a dull navy blue, eight cylinder flat head, three speed on the column with a radio that didn't work. You had to wack the starter with a hammer to get it to start. The interior had that musty mildew smell of really old cars.

At the time, I was working at my uncle's gas station. In my family you didn't work for family for pay. I thought he was the biggest tight wad until I started driving and he would give me free gas. Of course at this period of time, you could fill up for about $4. But this gave me the one thing all young people want - freedom.

My Uncle Bud became my hero. He also owned a farm equipment dealership and service center. His main products were John Deere and International Harvester. Uncle Bud offered to paint my car as long as I chose either Deere yellow or Harvester red. Red it was.

Even better, he traded an old bulldozer blade and hydraulics for a 1965 289 cu. in. Mustang engine. It was from a wreck. He put this in my Ford. My friend and I changed the three on the column to a Hurst floor shifter. He also let me use his pipe bender and I installed dual exhausts with glass pack Cherry Bomb mufflers. This car was getting nice!

My Gramma Nichols wanted to help so she made me seat covers out of green, red and yellow plaid blankets. I guess this was a tribute to my Scotch Irish heritage. I put two big boxes of baking soda under the front seat to try to get out the musty smell. My ride was now complete.

I cruised the boulevard smoking the tires and slamming gears. Riding around was a pastime of teenages and I did this with zeal.

I've never really talked about this but in my mind I always thought of this car as Myrtle after my Aunt; Uncle Bud's wife. Actually from this car on, I thought of all of my cars as Myrtle. Especially when I talked to them. Come on - you do too! Things like, "Come on Myrtle start for me girl" or "I know the gauge is on E but you can get me there!" My vanity plate for years read GRUMPIE, I couldn't get GRUMPY it was used, but I still called them all Myrtle.

Later that year I bought my first motorcycle and sold Myrtle for $600. My wife doesn't even remember me owning it but I'll never forget my first Myrtle.

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